Rainbow Ski Area

Rainbow is located near the top of the South Island, in the Nelson/Marlborough region which is known for it’s wine and long hours of sunshine. You don’t often hear much about Rainbow, this is probably due to it being well off the winter tourism trail. Rainbow as a ski hill is probably one of the best equipped club fields in New Zealand, with groomers, snow making, a terrain park and a range of lifts. The field caters best to beginner and intermediate skiers.

Terrain Rating:❆❆❆

The field is spread over two open basins, and the pitch is at a constant low angle with slightly steeper slopes around the ridges. The western basin offers an escape from the already quiet field. You will find some steeper lines between the two basins. Total vertical drop at Rainbow is only 218 metres.. 

Park Rating:❆❆

The field does have a small, well patronized terrain park complete with it’s own rope tow.  

Weather rating:❆❆❆❆ Snow rating: ❆❆

Rainbow usual opens mid July which is later than the other South Island fields. Due to its arid location Rainbow does not get huge dumps like the North Island fields, however the snow on average is a lot drier. Rainbow has grooming and the ability to make snow which keeps the field in pretty good shape.

Although the annual snowfall is not huge, blue bird conditions are pretty common in this sunny part of New Zealand.


Rainbow’s lift system consists of a main T-bar along with a learner’s Poma and three rope tows. This easily handles the Rainbow crowds and gives you access to 300ha of terrain.



There is no on mountain accommodation at Rainbow with most people staying Saint Arnaud or day tripping from Nelson or Blemheim. Saint Arnaud is a fairly sleepy town but offers up a good range of accommodation for it’s size.

Access Road:❆❆

 Rainbow is 32 km from Saint Arnaud. The access road is sealed and meanders through beech forest, farmland and five fords up the Wairau River valley. A gate signals the start of the mountain road. The road is unsealed and a little rough in places. You need to carry chains but in most conditions will be alright in a two wheel drive.

Dollar per turn:❆❆❆

At $80 for a adult day pass Rainbow is very much in line with many of the other small fields in the South Island.

Bottom Line: Overall stoke factor 2.5

Fun mellow terrain which is excellent for beginners and intermediate skiers.

 Current Conditions

ski fields nearby